One of the top officials with the Maryland Transit Administration made an abrupt departure this week, but not before spending over $65,000 on office furnishings.
MTA Chief of Staff James Knighton ordered wall coverings, furniture, window coverings and millwork for MTA Administrator Paul Comfort’s office. Under Maryland law, the agency was required to seek competitive bids through a sealed bidding process prior to making purchases over $25,000.
Maryland Department of Transportation officials would not say if the purchases were related to Knighton’s abrupt departure, but said both men were no longer with the state.
The furniture purchase was first discovered in mid-May, at which time payment had already been made for most of the items, spokeswoman Erin Henson said.
“The majority of the furniture was delivered and has been put in storage,” Henson said in a statement. “We will be returning what we can. As much of it is custom made and cannot be returned, we will be distributing that furniture in public places throughout MDOT.”
The furniture was going to be installed in Maryland Transportation Administration offices in the William Donald Schaefer Building, according to the purchase order obtained by The Baltimore Sun.
A large portion of the work was divided into two separate purchase ordered, which were dated March 7. Studio Partnership LLC was authorized as the “sole source” contractor for the project.
One purchase order worth $36,015.04 included millwork, wood veneer millwork, 36 chairs, a conference table and wall coverings, intended for a conference room.
The second purchase order worth $28,068.90 included “miscellaneous furniture for administrators office,” which included solar shades, window treatments, eight side chairs, millwork, a meeting table, two lounge chairs, a clock and a brochure holder.
The order included notes which read: “This work and associated fixtures are required to make improvements to the MTA Administrator’s office area,” according to The Sun.
The third order, with the Maryland Correction Enterprises was worth $1,627 and included two chairs and a credenza.
Comfort’s annual salary was $215,000 and Knighton’s salary was $124,000. The MTA director of planning and programming, Kevin Quinn, will replace comfort, the Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn said in an announcement on Tuesday.